Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee members jailed after Jo'burg mayor's bodyguard shoots/wounds demonstrators

Patrick Bond pbond at wn.apc.org
Mon Apr 8 12:19:05 MDT 2002


Please stay abreast of the news at http://southafrica.indymedia.org

Solidarity information will be posted soon. Given the very high-profile
character of many of the protesters, this looks very much like the early
stages of political persecution.

***

40 Soweto activists denied bail - sent to notorious prison

by anna April 8 2002
anna at union.org.za

Apartheid is back! 40 SECC protestors were denied bail and sent to the
notorious jail - Diepkloof prison - they will be incarcerated until 16th
April while police "verify their home addresses"
100 members of the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee were arrested last
Saturday for protesting outside the Mayor of Johannesburg's house. They were
also shot at more than 8 times by the Mayor's bodyguard who was standing on
the roof.

Very bad news is that Trevor Ngwane and SAMWU organiser Rob Rees + 38 other
protestors are now jailed in a notorious prison full of criminals until
April 16th! It's one of
the most violent and terrible prisons in South Africa!

The comrades could not get bail on the weekend because the police failed to
complete charging them all. The police made excuses like they didn't have
enough stationery!

So the comrades only appeared in court 2pm today. But the lawyer only
managed to get bail for the 60 pensioners and kids. The police are using the
excuse that they need to verify all their addresses by physically going to
each house. It's ridiculous as many are well known with stable employment
and it would be a matter of one call.

Strangely enough, the Mayor's bodyguard who shot 8 times at the SECC was not
even charged although the 2 people shot, laid attempted murder charges
against him.

Please spread this news and please write immediately to your SA embassy
demanding their release if you are international! If you want to help
locally, phone John of the Gauteng Anti-Privatisation Forum on +27 82
9404473.

photos taken by Florencia Belvedere of the APF are on
www.southafrica.indymedia.org and the SAMWU
press statement is attached, below.

Regards,
Anna Weekes
SAMWU Media Officer
_______________________________________________

SAMWU Press Statement Monday 8th April 2002 3:30pm

Union demands release of SAMWU Organiser & Soweto Electricity Crisis
Committee protestors

The South African Municipal Workers Union is shocked and disturbed that at
least 40 people who protested outside Johannesburg Mayor's house last
Saturday were refused bail today for unacceptable reasons. These 40,
including well-known activists, are now going to be incarcerated in
Diepkloof Prison until April 16th 2002.

The court initially wanted to detain all 100 protestors and only later
agreed to release about 60 pensioners and children. Many of these pensioners
were supposed to collect their pensions this morning. The children had been
in jail for almost two days!

The bail application for the remaining 40 protestors was turned down on the
basis that police still needed time to verify protestors' addresses. This
despite the fact that many of the protestors hold down permanent jobs and
have residential addresses which can be easily verified, like SAMWU
Provincial Organiser, Rob Rees. It is absurd to SAMWU that the court refused
to accept Rees's union work address! SAMWU is dismayed that the state is
returning to apartheid practices of holding people in prison for little or
no reason.

SAMWU has learnt that one member of the Anti-Privatisation who arrived at
the Jeppe Police Station to arrange legal assistance for the arrested
protestors, was subsequently arrested for protesting even though she was not
at the protest. This is illegal.

A further example of inconsistent application of the law is that one of
Mayor Masondo's bodyguards fired live ammunition into the crowd of
protestors. Two people were injured and have laid attempted murder charges
against him, yet the police have seemingly not even processed these charges.

According to reports, the bodyguard is currently walking the streets of the
city as a free man after merely submitting a written statement to police!

It was abundantly clear from the TV news on Saturday night that the reason
the protest turned ugly was due to the actions of this bodyguard.

"We must not lose sight of the fact that evictions, service cut offs and
high service charges within an environment of sprialling unemployment have
become a feature of the everyday lives of the protestors and many other
communities across the country. It is regrettable that the demonstration
took an ugly turn but the union calls on the government to address the
legitimate demands for basic services that poor communities are making,"
said SAMWU General Secretary Roger Ronnie.


SAMWU calls for the immediate release of all of the protestors.
../ends

For comment, contact SAMWU General Secretary on 082 2006799





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